Reality - the phytosanitary risks associated with the internet trade

Posted on Wed, 21 May 2014, 14:51

Sales of plants and plant products ordered through the internet (e-commerce) has increased significantly in the years since the IPPC and most ISPMs were adopted. E-commerce is fuelling an increasing volume of traded commodities. In many cases online traders of plants and plant products do not take into account a customer’s location before agreeing to a sale and shipping their purchases to them. This lack of knowledge of a customer’s location can lead to consignments of regulated articles being imported into a country without the phytosanitary certificates which may be required by the NPPO of that country.

A number of studies, including an IRSS study on internet trade presented at CPM-7 (2012), have shown that regulated articles ordered over the internet are routinely not accompanied by appropriate phytosanitary certificates during import. Similar concerns have also been identified with other forms of distance selling, such as mail order companies who trade via advertisements in newspapers and magazines.

Recent examples of challenges associated with e-commerce:

Katy Perry – seeds embedded in paper sold with music CDs UK – investigation of trading in banned tree species (because of phytosanitary risks) In order for the global plant protection framework to keep pace with this, NPPOs, RPPOs and the IPPC Secretariat should collaborate with other stakeholders to monitor internet trade and to ensure that goods ordered in this way are incorporated into relevant phytosanitary regulations on the basis of risk analysis. This requires improvements in collaboration, monitoring and enforcement across the pathways known for transporting those goods, particularly postal and express delivery services.

The IPPC, through it governing body the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM), has made a strong statement on the subject by adopting a CPM Recommendation in March 2014 on “Internet Trade (E-Commerce) in Plants and other Regulated Articles”

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